Post-secondary education is vital to achieving the full participation of people with disabilities in Canadian society. The benefits of post-secondary education (PSE) are well documented including more stable employment and opportunities for personal and social development.
In Canada, people with disabilities are profoundly underrepresented in PSE and consequently, the labour market.
Data reveals persistent challenges for students with disabilities, contributing to lower rates of PSE credential attainment than those without disabilities.
Addressing this challenge is not only of key importance to achieving individual and societal prosperity, it lies at the very heart of the beliefs embedded within Canadian culture and society about equity and justice.
CommunAbility is a virtual network that harnessing the power of online and social media technology to enable students with disabilities and others in PSE to connect in ways seldom experienced in the current environment. CommunAbility is developed by the PSDNet Project, an applied research project initiated in 2015 and supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Our aim is to further the work underway in PSE to remove barriers and create opportunities that promote the success of students with disabilities.
We envisions diverse and vibrant communities in which all members have opportunities for personal and social development such that they are enabled to fully participate in Canadian society, including the social and economic aspects.
The PSDNet project is structured through three broad themes: community development, education and mentorship. Our objectives are to:
Promote a positive disability identity: We offer connection opportunities for PSE students with disabilities that foster community building and support.
Provide essential information about disability and issues relevant to post-secondary students with disabilities: We offer information and resources on a range of topics related to students with disabilities within the context of PSE. We educate the PSE community, which includes students with and without disabilities, faculty and staff, and the broader community.
Provide post-secondary students with disabilities access to mentorship/coaching opportunities: We offer mentoring experiences that support PSE students with disabilities.
Disseminate information and resources: We mobilize knowledge, including research and evaluation, through innovative means.
Our mission is to foster mentoring experiences that supports PSE students with disabilities to recognize and achieve their own potential such that they persist and succeed in PSE and go on to attain personal and societal prosperity, stability, and security within their communities.
We believe that there is something powerful and empowering in individuals with disabilities supporting other individuals with disabilities. All too often, people with disabilities are perceived as the recipients of support rather than providers.
Harnessing social networking technologies, we’ve developed a mentoring program rooted in the science of mentoring that enables post-secondary students with disabilities to access support from post-secondary graduates with disabilities.